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Proposed Regulations on Nondevice & Active Business Requirements Under Code §355

Many jurisdictions have special provisions that apply when two businesses owned by a corporation or corporate group are divided and shares of group members are distributed to shareholders.  Sometimes referred to as a “demerger” in Europe and other times as a “butterfly” in Canada, in the U.S. these transactions are called Code §355 spin-offs, split-ups, and split-offs.  In the U.S., several hurdles must be overcome for the transaction to be free of tax at the level of the company making the distribution and the shareholder receiving the distribution.  The I.R.S. recently issued proposed regulations clarifying the application of two of these hurdles: the transaction must not be a “device” to distribute earnings, and companies conducting two or more active business must be involved.  The proposed regulations were motivated by a proposal by Yahoo! to distribute shares of Alibaba.  Rusudan Shervashidze and Andrew P. Mitchel analyze the proposed regulations and how they will apply to circumstances involving a spin-off of a corporation operating a small business but having a large investment asset.

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Outbound Transfers of Stock in Code §351 “Tax-Free” Exchanges

The U.S. has extensive rules regarding tax-free reorganizations in a domestic context. When the transaction involves cross-border exchanges, these rules are supplemented by Code §367(a). Rusudan Shervashidze and Andrew P. Mitchel explain how the rules work when shares of a U.S. corporation are transferred to a foreign corporation in a §351 exchange.

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